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United States Assistance to Children Affected by War

Fact sheet released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State, September 11, 2000

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Around the globe today, children in more than 50 countries are suffering the effects of armed conflict. It is estimated that there are more than 400,000 unaccompanied refugees or internally displaced children and over 300,000 child combatants. For each child who is killed or injured by physical violence, gunfire or land mines, many more are deprived of their basic physical, emotional, spiritual and cultural needs. Millions of children have lost their parents, siblings, homes and education. Girls especially are victimized in ways that can have a life-long impact.

The United States, as the world's leading humanitarian donor nation, spends approximately $1.7 billion per year on humanitarian assistance. This Fact Sheet outlines efforts on the part of several different United States agencies and offices to help alleviate the suffering of children affected by war.

U.S. Agency for International Development

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funds programs to assist children affected by war in nine countries. These child-based interventions are often the first developmental activities that take place in a country that is or has recently been affected by war or conflict. USAID programs are designed to:

In addition, USAID administers two funds, each with annual budgets over $10 million, that bring significant assistance to war- and conflict-affected children.

Displaced Children and Orphans Fund: Since 1989, USAID's Displaced Children and Orphans Fund has worked in 28 countries to provide more than $78 million to organizations that strengthen the capacity of families and communities to provide care, protection, and support for orphaned children. While this fund also provides resources for AIDS orphans, street children and disabled children, over half of its budget assists children impacted by war.

Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund: Since 1989, the Leahy Fund has provided more than $60 million in financial and technical assistance to improve the mobility, health, and social integration of children and adult civilian victims of war. Working in more than 16 countries, the fund serves people who suffer from mobility-related injuries, including those with land mine injuries, and those who suffer from polio as a result of interrupted immunization services.

U.S. Department of State

The Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) of the U.S. Department of State contributes millions of dollars each year to activities for refugee children, including those directly affected by armed conflict. These funds are contributed principally thorough the worldwide activities of the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and other international agencies. In the past two years (1998-99) PRM contributed over $15 million to activities for refugee children, including $9.5 million for UNHCR's Children-at-Risk programs that focus on children affected by armed conflict, including child soldiers. PRM gave more than $2 million to the Liberian Children's Initiative, a joint UNHCR-UNICEF program to address the needs of children and youth in Liberia following seven years of war, and $3.3 million to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) for emergency health care, including immunizations, education and psychosocial services, primarily to displaced Kosovars.

The Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO), through the International Organizations and Programs account, contributes to several UN Development Agencies, including UNICEF. In Fiscal Year 2000, IO contributed $110 million to UNICEF's core resources, the single largest national contribution. This was used to fund programs for children at risk in a wide range of countries.

The U.S. has been involved in humanitarian demining since 1988, and by the end of 2000, will have provided a cumulative total of more than $400 million to 36 countries for various humanitarian demining efforts, including training, mine clearance, mine awareness, and medical assistance. The FY 2000 budget for humanitarian demining exceeded $100 million. Much of this program assistance directly benefits children whose lives are threatened by mines. These efforts will continue under the President's "Demining 2010 Initiative," which seeks a mine-safe world by 2010. In addition to programs outlined above, the U.S. will promote partnerships with the private sector to bring additional assets to mine action.

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